Every partner who joins your channel program wants to be successful. The easier you make it for your partners to taste early success, the more they’re going to love and appreciate working with you. You can then expect them to be loyal to your brand for the best reasons, and to be very enthusiastic about selling your solutions at every opportunity. This often begins with setting partners up for success through a channel partner onboarding template – more on that soon!
As much as you may feel you got to know your new partner during the recruitment process, the most important step in your journey together comes right after that when you onboard them into your program. You go in wanting to make sure they know everything they need to know about:
- You and your company
- Your solutions, products, and services
- The channel managers who will be working with them
- How to use your resources most effectively
- How to do business with you efficiently
- Where to escalate any challenges they may encounter
There’s also much you still want to learn about them so you can manage them most effectively to produce optimum results now and in the future, including:
- How well they match your profile of what an ideal partner looks like today
- How well they match your profile of what an ideal partner looks like in the future
- How well their culture will align with yours
- What vertical or other market segments they are strongest in
- What the primary services are that they produce themselves, or partner with others for
- A Performance Forecast based on their existing account base to also base anticipated growth on
- Which of your game plans will suit them best
Channel Partners: To Know Them is to Love Them
The most productive channel partners consistently seek a close, personal relationship not only with their local channel management, but also with your senior executives. They take comfort in knowing they can readily escalate any issue that requires it, and that whoever they contact in your organization will know them, their company, and their concerns. You’re partnering with them to help manage and grow their business. That’s very personal to them, as it should be. Partner intimacy becomes a necessary ingredient in a successful relationship.
When Creating Your Partner Onboarding Program – Consistency Counts
Your smartest onboarding strategy is to develop a channel partner onboarding template. Why?
It’s far easier to manage many partners when you know how they’ve all been trained, what they all should know, and what they’ve told your company. By asking all partners the same questions you build up a very consistent base of information regarding each of them. You enter each interaction knowing what you know.
Onboarding is far more about preparing and enabling your new partners to “hit the ground running” and do a great job representing, recommending, and selling your solutions. You’ll want a way to make sure you’ve covered everything comprehensively, and a template is the best way to checklist everything as you go.
It also sets the stage for future performance monitoring and optimization activities. To improve anything you need to know your current state, your desired end state, and the path to getting from one to the other. The contents of your template establish the original baseline current state.
8 Elements of a Successful Channel Partner Onboarding Template
When developing your partner onboarding program, be sure the following are included and confirmed on your template:
1. Basic Contact Information
You want to have ready access to full contact information for the key players in your partner’s company. This includes name, phone, mobile, email, preferred messaging platforms, title or position, and a brief outline of role and responsibilities.
2. Critical Business Information
Any relevant tax ID, partner identifier numbers, and anything else required to perform transactions properly.
3. Sales Resources
Everything your local channel manager needs to know about anyone in the organization who sells. Full contact information, current client list if available, personal info such as spouse and children’s names, any available data on past sales performance, any available information on preferred vendors to work with. The more you know about adjacent sales the better and faster you can connect them to yours.
4. Servicing Resources
Today’s channel partner needs to generate revenue from services they perform themselves. The more service business you can bring them, directly or indirectly, the more they’ll love you. This is of key importance to their core strategy. Your enthusiasm for training their people and bringing them service business begins with knowing their services resources.
5. Marketing Resources
First and foremost gauge the marketing acumen and expertise of your new partner. Many partners don’t feel the need to put much resource behind marketing. Those who do are usually open to working with your team to improve their collateral and campaigns. Make early recommendations as to how market development funds you provide might be put to best use. Also, remember the partner wants to promote their own business as well as yours.
6. Training Matrix
Your partner program should require specific personnel to successfully pass training courses and tests. Include a matrix listing each person taking training, which courses they must complete, by what date, and what tests must be passed. The more detail you encourage the faster the initial training curve will be completed. This includes sales and servicing personnel.
7. Resource Guide
Every partner should know exactly who to reach out to for help with any specific issue that may arise. Otherwise, their channel manager might easily become overloaded with calls and emails.
8. Strategic Roadmap
Here’s where you bring the entire plan together. Sales goals, training goals, number and names of existing accounts to approach, number of new accounts to be added in the next period. Strategic plan for rolling your products and services out to customers. Joint sales call planning.
Download Free Channel Partner Onboarding Template
To get you started, ZiftSolutions provides a core partner onboarding template to start from. Modify it to your specifications so that every new partner is onboarded thoroughly, successfully, and according to your specific plan.
Following these steps in building and delivering your channel partner onboarding experience will give you a leg up in creating and retaining top-tier partnerships.